Chimney Services FAQ

How often do I need to have my chimney cleaned?

We recommend every 50 fires or so. It depends on the type of woodburning system, your burning habits, and the time of year you burn wood. At the minimum, every chimney should be inspected annually and cleaned/repaired, if necessary, according to the National Fire Protection Association and the Chimney Safety Institute of America.


What do I look for when I call someone to clean my chimney?

Ask if the technician is currently certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. CSIA certification indicates the technician has passed a rigorous study course on the basics of chimney maintenance. You’d never use a doctor without credentials, so why would you trust an untrained person to inspect and maintain such a vitally important part of your home?


What is creosote and why is it important that it be removed from a woodburning chimney?

Creosote is a by-product of wood not being burned completely. The smokier the fire, the more creosote is formed. Think of it this way: “smoke is creosote.” It smells bad, is corrosive and, if it catches fire, can reach temperatures of more than 2000 degrees. A chimney fire can destroy your chimney, if not your home.


Is it OK to use the various chemical chimney cleaners and do they work?

Check labels carefully. Some cleaners have a sodium derivative that’s corrosive. Other products claim to “clean the chimney.” They may loosen or change the soot and creosote into a brushable material. This material can fall into inaccessible areas of your chimney or block the flue. Physically brushing, then inspecting, the chimney remains the best way to eradicate creosote. Note: Glaze creosote or 3rd degree creosote is a very hard, shiny creosote that can’t be brushed out. We can treat it by using catalytic compounds to remove and help prevent further buildup. We also recommend a change in the burning habits or chimney system of the woodburning owner.


What do I do when I have a chimney fire?

Stay safe. Get yourself and your family out. If possible, discharge a fire extinguisher into the firebox. Close the doors on the wood burner. Try to cut oxygen to the fire. If you can reduce the time it’s burning, the damage may be lessened. Call the fire department. Call your insurance company. Most homeowner’s insurance policies will repair chimney fire damage. Don’t use the system again until it’s inspected by a CSIA-certified chimney technician. If it’s damaged, don’t use the system until it’s repaired or replaced.


Do you provide insurance inspections?

We do this specialized inspection while assisting an insurance adjustor, fire investigator, or structural engineer to determine the causes of fire damage to a chimney or home. It may involve demolition of all or part of the chimney. It may also include an interior camera scan. It includes all other photo and written documentation.


My chimney is made out of brick or stone. It will last forever, right?

All masonry materials can be damaged by water. The freeze/thaw cycle we get here in the North Country destroys many chimneys. Moisture freezes; when it thaws, cracks form. (Sort of like area roads do and these cracks lead to potholes.) We can do a lot to help prevent freeze/thaw damage. Most chimneys will benefit from some type of chimney cover. 80% of chimneys have nothing on top.


What chimney service training do Black Goose technicians have?

Black Goose technicians are certified to do chimney inspections, cleanings and installations by these organizations:

  • The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)
  • The National Fireplace Institute (NFI)
  • The Fireplace, Investigation, Research & Education Association (F.I.R.E.)

How much experience do you have?

Over 30 years when Black Goose began servicing chimneys in 1984.


What questions should I ask when I call someone to get my chimney cleaned?

  • Is your technician certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America?
  • Will your technician video scan the interior of my chimney?
  • What type of experience and longevity does your company have?
  • Will the company guarantee not to leave a mess in my home?
  • Will your technician provide me with a written Condition Report of my chimney?

How often do I need to get my chimney inspected (and cleaned, if necessary)?

  • The Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fire Protection Association each recommend minimally, an annual chimney inspection and cleaning and repairs, if needed.
  • If you burn wood, we recommend to have the chimney inspected every 50 fires, or so.

What is creosote?

Creosote is a byproduct of incomplete burning of wood. When you have a smoky fire, the tar particles in the smoke condense on a cool surface inside the chimney or appliance.


Why do I need to have creosote removed from my chimney and stove or fireplace?

  • It is combustible and a fairly thin layer can catch fire and burn hot enough to damage the chimney.
  • It can plug your chimney and cause a backup of smoke and carbon monoxide.
  • It has a rank-smelling odor.
  • It is acidic and can cause corrosion.
  • It is carcinogenic and can cause cancer.

Is it OK to use a chimney cleaning chemical?

  • Some of these products help prevent creosote formation and some are catalysts that change the consistency of the creosote to a removable state.
  • None of these products take the place of the recommended annual inspection / cleaning, if required.
  • Some of these products are corrosive and shouldn’t be used.
  • We recommend you contact a knowledgeable chimney technician for what would work best for you.

Do I need to have my gas flue cleaned and inspected?

  • The Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fire Protection Association each recommend minimally, an annual chimney inspection and cleaning and repairs, if needed.
  • Generally, gas burns pretty clean, however, gas-burning appliances may also cause a lot of very acidic moisture which can damage your chimney.
  • We will clean out the debris and blockages that may result and inspect for deterioration.
  • Exterior chimney damage may still occur when venting gas appliances.

Do you do animal removal?

  • We remove dead birds, squirrels, bats and raccoons from chimneys.
  • We do not remove these from chimneys when they are alive.
  • We can help prevent animal entry into your chimney by installing chimney covers and top dampers.

Black Goose Chimney Service Call includes:

  • Service that takes about 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Includes visual inspection from the roof (if roof is accessible).
  • Client must be present.
  • May be necessary to determine chimney relining or extent of repairs.
  • Allows technician to determine causes of most water leaks.
  • Service call fee must be paid prior to work proposal being prepared.
  • $100 of the Service Call will be credited toward the final repair bill after Black Goose completes the
    repair work.

Note: Does not include removing glaze creosote and may not include dead animal removal.


Chimney Repairs:

Do you offer free repair estimates?

We offer a free sidewalk estimate, which includes:

  • Very limited visual chimney inspection performed from the ground.
  • Free service that takes about 15 minutes.
  • Client must be present.
  • Can’t be done for some types of chimney reline estimates, Heat Shield estimates, leaking problems and any repairs that require an interior chimney inspection.
  • Done only within a 20 mile radius of downtown Duluth. (Includes most parts of Wisconsin South Range, Carlton and Cloquet).

*Note: A Black Goose service call or a full chimney service will give you a more complete picture of your chimney than a sidewalk estimate.


What is causing my chimney to leak?

Water leaks happen for a number of reasons. Some of these are from:

  • Inadequate flashing.
  • Loose or missing mortar joints.
  • Inadequate crown.
  • Missing rain cover.
  • Porous brick, concrete block or stone.
  • Low flue temperature from a gas or fuel oil heating appliance.
  • Interior flue damage.

What is causing my chimney to smoke back?

Chimneys smoke back for a number of reasons. This may include but not be limited to:

  • Animal nesting or debris blockage.
  • Low or high barometric pressure.
  • Competing appliances.
  • Wind.
  • Poor chimney design.
  • Building pressurization.
  • User error, such as forgetting to open the fireplace damper.

*Note: We recommend you contact a knowledgeable professional to help determine the cause(s).


Why do I need a chimney liner?

  • Reduced fire and carbon monoxide hazard.
  • Increase appliance efficiency.
  • Save money on energy costs.
  • Help prevent costly damage to chimney and surrounding building structures.

Do you do real estate inspections?

Yes, when doing a real estate inspection, we are required to do a Full Level 2 chimney inspection, as described by NFPA 211. (See link to NFPA 211).


Why should I consider having a chimney cover?

  • Help prevent water entry into the flue(s).
  • Help prevent bird and other animal entry into the chimney.